Oh my God, clutch your pearls & grab your pitchforks she smokes

(must be a disgusting, dreadful person!)

“They’re like, really bad for you, you know?”

Thank-you, Sarah: thank-you for holier-than-thou opinions & self-important, excessive

blinking in Grade 11 European History, as your petite gold crucifix catches the lip of heavily-knit, boatneck sweater in royal blue, I did not know that; I just did not know.

I used to be a Smoker —

Preference for Marlborough Reds imported from the Americas, $10 flat, no questions asked at The Grab & Go. Wallah told us to wait for a lull before approaching the counter, fiery-eyed, eager to trade an hour and a half of scrubbing greasy pans & a two hour-long bi-pedular trek across town for a nicotine nuzzle. After-toke smokes were the highest ecstasy for virginal teenage girls, shrouded by scents of hay & skunk, straw & camel-dung, some nondescript mechanically floral body spray, standing in a circle under a streetlight, savouring ourselves, savouring each other, as the dew formed around us.

I used to be a Smoker —

Opening cellophane slowly, lovingly, peeling rind off toxic fruit in thin, transparent strips, balling it up & tucking it back, tinfoil on, always on, keeping it fresh. Smoking pairs well with confessions outside pubs in closed alcoves, tucked away, avoiding foot traffic after oysters & flank steak, after collard greens. Smoking pairs best with bowls of red wine & blank notepads, dreaming in hues of dry Rioja.  

I used to be a Smoker —

Easing the soul-crush of a summertime job downtown, pushing papers for the government, walking uphill into sun every day, The Killers’ All These Things That I’ve Done an anthem for Julys & Augusts.   

Sixty minutes divided by three breaks the banality of an 8-hour day, removing relentless paperclips, where companies like Moosedick Incorporated demand things of me.

Seven years bartending through undergrad, satisfyingly selfish smoking moment after working ten-hour shifts slinging pitchers of beer, sticky cocktails, greasy fried fare slathered in sauce, catering to the inane questions/requests of the general public, cleaning over and over… that post-work cigarette becoming a bedtime story, a balm for benumbed feet and legs, prefacing a dreamless sleep all while I barely had time to shed my little black dress like a snakeskin before succumbing to it.

I celebrated one New Years with a bottle of sparkling in the bathtub, smoking out the window in lonesome wee morning hours after working the deep shift, welcoming 2011 with cash & smoke & bubbles.  

I used to be a Smoker —

Out the window of my one-bedroom Danforth apartment: the first and only one-bedroom apartment. 

Third-floor walk-up above wood-burning pizza & waffle-coned ice cream parlour: so warm inside my apartment; towels unnecessary as a cool shower dried from my shoulders within minutes, water beads libation for some unforeseen thirsty creature living in the walls.  

Once, my tears served as late-evening offering as I sat on my couch and smoked out my window, blue coils mingling with sounds of records from a lost artist’s golden years, trying through sobs to articulate how humbled I was to have witnessed such creative integrity, as my partner looked on. Our son was conceived that night.

I used to be a Smoker —

All flooding back, muddily, as I notice the smooshed cigarette butt eking out from the slush of the corner of the second last step. 

Mmmm, disgusting.

Meghan Sutherland is a poet and writer. Meghan has a blog brimming with essays, and has most recently been published on for her poem, “The Mustard Queen.” You can find her talking mostly to herself about books and music on Twitter @MegsDregs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *